Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt today said that he fully supported the Cairns Greyhound Racing Club in their bid to continue to hold race meetings at Cannon Park.

The Cairns club’s appeal before the Racing Appeals Tribunal commenced today and is expected to go for up to three days.

“The Cairns Greyhound Racing Club is strong financially and provides a great community product for the region. I am one of the many people who are proud to be associated with the club,” Mr Pitt said.

“Greyhound racing is a terrific experience for the many families that are involved, either as spectators or as trainers.”

“The decision by the Greyhound Racing Authority (GRA) shows that they either do not understand or do not respect the role that clubs like Cairns play in the industry.

“Comparing clubs like Cairns and Mackay to larger centres is not right. Feeder clubs like Cairns play an important role in the industry – the larger clubs need them to ensure the longer term viability of greyhound racing across the state.”

“Many people in Far North Queensland live for greyhound racing. To these people, it is about much more than prize money, TAB coverage or dividends.”

While he welcomed the support from the LNP Member for Dalrymple, Shane Knuth MP on this issue, Mr Pitt said he is barking up the wrong tree by asking the minister responsible for racing in Queensland, the Honourable Peter Lawlor MP, to intervene.

“The GRA is an independent body making decisions on behalf of the industry it represents. It’s responsible for commercial industry issues, such as the licensing of clubs, the allocation of race dates, funding and decision making about venues and racing infrastructure,” Mr Pitt said.

“Attempts by myself or Mr Knuth to lobby Minister Lawlor would be futile. It is not possible, nor would it be appropriate, for the Minister to intervene in the decision making process.

“I make one last appeal to the board to reconsider its decision to reduce the activities of the Cairns Greyhound Racing Club and allow it to continue for the enjoyment and benefit of those in the local area.”

“I acknowledge that Greyhounds Queensland has made some attempts over the past 18 months, but I would like to see the board take a more positive approach and work with smaller clubs in order to improve their performance.

On 8 April 2009, the GRA issued notices to the Cairns and Mackay greyhound racing clubs requiring them to show cause why they should not be deregistered from 30 June 2009, on the basis of declining performance relating to poor race day patronage and low wagering turnover.

“The GRA subsequently announced that from 1 July 2009, the Cairns Greyhound Racing Club will continue to operate but with a reduced race program, down from 40 to 24 race meetings,” Mr Pitt said.

“The current direction by the GRA would see Townsville become the key greyhound racing club in North Queensland as Greyhounds Queensland have allocated TAB dates to the Townsville club.”